Europe

Life-support pregnancy case: Decision due on Boxing Day

The High Court in Dublin is due to rule on the case after doctors sought legal advice on switching off life-support
Image caption The High Court in Dublin is due to rule on the case after doctors sought legal advice on switching off life-support

Dublin High Court will give its decision in the case of a brain dead woman who is 18 weeks pregnant on Boxing Day.

The woman's family want her life-support machine to be turned off.

The court will hear legal submissions from lawyers for all sides on Wednesday morning.

Earlier, the court was told that there was no reasonable prospect for survival for the unborn child, even if life support was to be continued.

The woman's father told the court she should be allowed to die with dignity.

His daughter suffered a brain trauma and her death was recorded on 3 December. She has been kept on life-support due to uncertainty over Irish abortion law.

The High Court in Dublin was asked to rule on the case after doctors sought legal advice on switching off life-support.

Doctors told the court her unborn child has no reasonable prospect of survival.

Lawyers for the Health Service Executive (HSE), the body which runs all public health services in the Republic of Ireland, have argued that it would be lawful to withdraw life-support in this case.

The woman, who is now 18 weeks pregnant, is in her late 20s and has two other children.

Her father has requested that her life-support machine is switched off.

He said doctors told him she was not going to survive at the end of November, but that she had to be put on life support because of the presence of a foetal heartbeat.

The man told the High Court he found this very "distressful".

He added he believed she was slowly deteriorating and did not look like his daughter.

He said he had been told the chance of the foetus surviving was minimal and the family had discussed the matter and decided the machine should be turned off.

The court was told that the father of the woman's unborn child has also supported that request.

An expert witness in intensive care medicine, Dr Brian Marsh, examined the woman on Monday night.

He told the judges that in his opinion, the woman was not alive at any level, medically speaking.

He said his best judgement was that sustaining her on life-support was not feasible for a long period of time.